The stuff of straw men…
Posted August 5, 2015on:
The term “straw man” isn’t a reference to Ray Bolger’s character in The Wizard of Oz, but for purposes of this post, his quote is quite appropriate, “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking?”
In the vernacular, a straw man argument is a sham argument set up to be defeated, but in the legal world, a straw man has specific meaning. Straw men are essentially conduits used to keep the underlying facts of a transaction hidden. Straw men have no real interest in a transaction, but are merely passive stand-ins for the real party in interest who is secretly controlling the action from behind the scenes – the wizard behind the curtain.
Last weekend there was a conclave of straw men and the organizations they live to serve. It was the Kochapalooza at the palatial St. Regis at Dana Point, California. It held all the pomp and circumstance of a very upscale wedding. Only registered “Stepford-like attendees” were allowed access and even then, cell phones were confiscated and hulking men with earphones kept a watchful Cycloptic eye on the 450 attendees.
While reporters were seriously embargoed in what they could report, it became apparent that the Kochtopus is fiercely trying to “rebrand itself”. At the same time, all the iterations of the Koch machine are on a serious steroid binge – in fact, it seems as if the Kochtopus ate the steroid factory and its tentacles are going to be longer and stronger next year. 2016 will be the year of the Kochtopus.
The St. Regis presidential beauty pageant consisted of Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb! Bush. Rand Paul is the only one who turned down the invitation. It really doesn’t matter if the Kochs have a favorite in the race since the Koch affiliated groups have almost a Billion Dollars to spread around. A single, stand alone super PAC has over $100,000,000.00 to spend.
While it is easy – almost like shooting Kochtopi in a barrel – to be critical of the Brothers Koch, the problem is larger than just them. For the first time in more than a century, the majority of funding for a presidential election is coming in six-figure or larger checks from corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The 2016 campaign will be an exercise in speed dating 500 big-ticket billionaires who are not bothered in the least about being deeply adored and reverently worshiped by sycophantic politicians.
Overall, super PACs raised $314 million through the end of June, compared with just $26 million at the same time in 2011. More than 500 donors have given at least $100,000, for a total of $238 million — 75 percent all super PAC donations.
While all the candidates have their sugar daddies, there is no better example of the egregious nature of these political vampire squids than the super PAC of creepy Ted Cruz. Seventy-one percent of his super PAC and campaign fundraising come from big donors, almost all of it from just three multi-million-dollar contributors: $15 million from the fracking Wilks family, $11 million from New York hedge fund executive Robert Mercer, and $10 million from Texas private equity investor Toby Negeubauer.
Iowa and New Hampshire, along with other early primary states, no longer have any real relevance. So long as a candidate continues to stir the loins of their billionaire bubalas, they are good to go. It’s hard to see how anyone gets put in timeout as long as they have millions in mad money.
And here’s a frightening statistic: Over the last two years and as of May 06, 2015, 1,360 groups organized as super PACs have reported total receipts of $696,011,919.00.
When the Supreme Court upended the system of campaign finance by equating money with speech in Citizens United, they defensively emphasized the disinfecting sunlight of disclosure. Of course, the fulcrum of that argument is Congress passing laws to mandate disclosure. This is where the conservatives on the Court couldn’t have been “wronger”. First, there must be the political will in Congress to disinfect the system through disclosure. That political will does not exist nor will it exist as long as contribution addicted politicians get their mainline fix through PACs.
To cull the straw men from the power-hungry in this super PAC morality play, it would require a character study no less intricate than that of Cassius and Brutus in Julius Caesar. Cassius, recognizing the motivations of others, and Brutus being malleably naive, were both destroyed by consequences of their making with ultimately the status quo being considered the victor.
Until such a rich narrative plays out, we will just have to be suffer like the Scarecrow, “with lots of talking by those without much in the way of brains”.
Be sure and download your scorecard for tomorrow night’s debate and please feel free to take this conversation in any direction you want to explore.
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